Posts Tagged ‘Debian’

Installing newer ALSA driver on an Asus Eee Pc 1000H

Saturday, March 28th, 2009

I have Debian testing on my Asus Eee Pc 1000H with Linux 2.6.26.  The ALSA driver therein doesn’t fully support the Eee Pc 1000H (and  therefore neither the 901).Sound playback is fine, but the microphone doesn’t work.

Installing Linux 2.6.28 was a no-go as the drivers for the wireless isn’t available there, so I decided to install ALSA 1.0.19 to that.

The explation is from the Debian Eee Pc wiki.

First make sure you have module-assistant and friends installed and setup

aptitude -r install module-assistant
module-assistant prepare

The ‘prepare’ command will download additional packages needed to compile modules for the running kernel.

Now download the latest ALSA sources, which I got from Experimental

aptitude -t experimental install alsa-source

To build the driver all you need to do is

module-assistant build alsa

and wait for the compile to finish.

Afterwards you’ll have a .deb file in /usr/src ready for installing.  I used dpkg directly, but

module-assisstant install alsa

will do it for you too.

I simply rebooted to make sure all old modules were removed and the new ones loaded. It can be done without a reboot.

Most mixer inputs and outputs change name with the new driver, so the ACPI hotkey scripts need a bit of updating. Its a bit nitty-gritty where you need to edit several scripts by hand, and its all described in the wiki.

Now I just need to get Ekiga to do video calls to Gizmo on my  wife’s macbook.

Asus Eee Pc 1000H with Debian Lenny (testing)

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

I have bought an Asus EeePc 1000H which is one of the new popular netbook – a very small and light weight notebook.

I chose the Asus EeePc 1000H for several reasons:

  • I travel a lot, often by motorcycle and kayak,  and need something compact and lightweight for mail, internet, blog updates and social networks;
  • initially I wanted the EeePc 901, but its being discontinued and it costs almost the same as the 1000H, which has a hard disk and a larger keyboard;
  • though delivered with Windows XP, the hardware is quite Linux friendly and almost identical with the 901 which were sold with Linux;
  • its small and cute (even my wife says so).

The specs are:

  • Intel Atom N270 dual core CPU,
  • Intel Mobile 945GME chipset,
  • 1 Gb DDR2 667MHz RAM upgradable to 2Gb,
  • 160 Gb SATA harddisk,
  • Six-cell LiOn battery 6580 mAh,
  • 10″ WVGA display at 1024×600,
  • ElanTech touchpad,
  • RaLing RT2860 wireless network adapter – IEEE 802.11bgn,
  • Attansic Technology L1 Gigabit network adapter,
  • Broadcom BT-253 internal USB bluetooth adapter,
  • Alcor Micro SD/MMC Card Reader,
  • Genesys Logic USB 2.0 webcam 1.3Mpixel.

It is a fairly small laptop, measuring 27×19×3cm and weighing 1.45kg which is a bit more that I had hoped (the 901 is less than 1kg) but it is OK, as I won’t have to bring an extra USB disk for additional storage.

Conclusions

I have installed Debian testing/lenny on it, through the Debian Eee Pc projects installer. It is a specialised installer which does a slightly different installation and configuration, but the resulting system is a normal Debian system.

Most parts of the netbook work immediately with little or no manual configuration after a base install, but there are a few parts that doesn’t or that are a bit unstable. Most of these seem to have a solution on the way.

An install through the Debian Eee Pc installer of Debian Testing (lenny) with a Linux 2.6.26 kernel leaves these parts non-functional:

  • Front microphone doesn’t work (should be fixed in the latest ALSA release, included ibn Linux 2.6.27);

and these only partly functional:

  • Wireless network driver only works with certain setups (for me, open network and WPA/PSK work, WEP doesn’t);
  • Touchpad is working with a generic driver which doesn’t support all the functions of the hardware;

and these require an extra effort to get fully functional:

  • Keyboard hotkeys (editing a configuration file)

Installation

The installation procedure was more or less as specified on the Debian Eee Pc Wiki.

The computer came with Windows XP preinstalled and with the disk partitioned in a particular way. Since I’ve paid for that Windows installation, I’d like to retain it in case I should need it later.

The harddisk was initially partitioned like this:

  1. Windows XP system 75 Gb (type 7 – HPFS/NTFS)
  2. User data 60 Gb (type 7 – HPFS/NTFS)
  3. Windows accelerated boot 8Gb (type 0x1c – Hidden W95 FAT32)
  4. EFI partition for the BIOS “Boot Booster” 40Mb (type 0xef)

The partitions 1 and 4 would be needed for Windows XP and the BIOS, and I wasn’t sure what partition 3 was for, so I decided to leave it untouched. I think it is for an accelerated boot of Windows XP where they make a hibernation type snapshot at boot time which can then be used at subsequent boots to speed up things.

For Linux I would need a root, a swap and a user data partition, so I decided on this partitioning scheme:

  1. Windows XP system 10 Gb (type 7 – HPFS/NTFS)
  2. Extended partition 125Gb (type 5 – Extended)
    1. Linux root 8Gb (type 83 – Linux)
    2. Linux swap 1Gb (type 82 – Linux swap)
    3. Linux home 116Gb (type 83 – Linux)
  3. Windows accelerated boot 8Gb (type 0x1c – Hidden W95 FAT32)
  4. EFI partition for the BIOS “Boot Booster” 40Mb (type 0xef)

Starting the Debian Eee PC installer was quite easy. I downloaded the image, copied it to an SD card, inserted it into the card reader and booted while pressing ESC so the BIOS asked which device to boot. The installer is the normal Debian lenny installer, only with a payload of special modules for the EeePc specific hardware,  which for now include both wired and wireless network adapters and ACPI functions.

Before starting it is a good idea to disable “Boot Booster” and “Quick Boot” in the BIOS. Otherwise it is quite likely the system will just launch you into Windows XP so fast you have little time to press ESC for the boot device menu or F2 to enter the BIOS.

I had to start the installer several times to shrink and resize the Windows XP partitions and setup my own partitioning scheme as shown above.

The first several boots into the Debian installer was to shrink and resize the Windows XP installation, and setup my partition scheme. I repeatedly took the installer up to the point where it wants you to partition the harddisk, then pressed Alt-F2 to get a shell. The first time I used ntfsresize to shrink the Windows XP NTFS filesystem from 75Gb to 10Gb. Second time was to resize the actual Windows XP partition using fdisk, followed by a boot to Windows XP to make sure the installation was still bootable. Then the third time to setup the Linux partitions, and only afterwards did I let the installer continue and do the actual installation.

The Debian installer is so easy these days its almost boring. I only had to answer a few questions, enter some passwords and select what I wanted of software on the computer. I let it install all of the Gnome desktop environment, which was probably a mistake, since I had a bit of work afterwards reducing it to only the parts I actually wanted.  I have no use for Windows terminal services or remote desktop systems, or all the CD/DVD ripping and mastering software I had installled automatically.

Hardware walk-through

CPU – Intel Atom N270 1.6GHz works out of the box with both cores available and CPU frequency scaling activated.

Disk – the SATA disk works as expected.

Sound – works except for the front microphone, which is supported in the next version of ALSA, included in Linux 2.6.27.

SD card reader – works.

USB – works out of the box.

Wired network – the Attansic Technology L1 Gigabit network adapter uses an “atl1e” driver which works without any problems noted.

Wireless network – works partially with the rt2860sta driver included in the Debian Eee Pc install. It works for me with a WPA/PSK access point, and with an open network, but not without some problems. The driver drops the association at high throughput and subsequently fails to re-associate to the access point without a manual intervention. With a WEP setup it associated with the access point,  but failed consistently to get an IP address from the DHCP server. There is no hardware kill switch.

Bluetooth – the internal USB adapter works out of the box. There is not hardware kill switch.

ACPI – this is governed by a special eeePc driver included in the Debian Eee Pc installer. It seems to support everything: power switch, lid, extra keys, battery, cpu, suspend states etc.

Video out – not yet tested

Video – Intel Mobile 945GME chipset, which works with X.org. It is automatically configured by the Debian Eee Pc install, so X windows works immediately, compositing included.

Touchpad – works partially. It is currently controlled by a generic driver, which doesn’t support all the functions of the hardware. The touchpad works as such, with tapping and the two buttons below it. The middle mouse button can be activated by a two finger tap, and a scroll wheel simulated by a two finger drag. A three finger tap works as a right button click, but it is almost impossible to get right on the small touchpad.

Extra keys – works with initialisation – see later “Hotkeys”

Suspend – both suspend and hibernate works through the Gnome Power Manager. I have uswsusp installed, but I don’t know if the Gnome Power Manager uses the kernel suspend functions or uswsusp. Sometimes bluetooth disappears after a resume, but I still haven’t figured out why. You need to belong to the “powerdev” group to get full Gnome Power Manager functionality.

Webcam – the necessary Video4Linux drivers are automatically installed, and the camera seems to work. I can get mplayer to show me live video from it.

Keyboard – while it has nothing to do with Linux, I do have a few grievances about the keyboard. It has at least two deficiencies. While is has a nice and usable size, the right shift key is placed in a very annoying position, to the right of the “up” arrow key, which I alway hit by mistake. Also, the shift lock key has no status indicator anywhere, so you cannot see if shift lock is on or off, except trying to type something.

X Windows

Basic X.org configuration was automatic.

The X.org server uses the “intel” driver for the Intel 945GME graphics chip set. It is by default set up with EXA acceleration, but the Debian Eee Pc wiki states that using XAA might be better, and my experience confirms it. It feels quite a bit snappier with XAA, especially when scrolling in Firefox.

DRI was configured automatically.

The touchpad it is an Elantech touchpad but it is not recognised as such by the kernel. It detected as a “ExplorerPS/2”, not as a proper touchpad. The funny thing is, however, that the touchpad still works to some degree. It reacts to movement and taps, there is a scroll wheel area on the right side of it, and a two finger tab becomes a middle click. A three-finger tap becomes a right click but it is very hard to reproduce reliably. There seems to be a driver for the touchpad in the working, but it’s currently only semi-functional. I haven’t delved deeper into this, as it does work.

Compiz was only an “aptitude install compiz” away. All the necessary prerequisites were taken care of by the Debian Eee Pc installer.

Hotkeys

The keyboard has some special keys, which are handled by a special eeepc ACPI module.

I had to edit the /etc/default/eeepc-acpi-scripts file to get the sound volume keys to work properly.  I needed to set the variables

VOLUME_LABEL='Master'
HEADPHONE_LABEL='Headphones'

Apparently the default setup is for the latest Alsa release, but not the one used by the 2.6.26 kernel.

Major outstanding issues

  • Front side microphone is not working,
  • Touchpad not fully supported.

Links

Zepto Znote 3215W with Debian Testing/lenny

Monday, January 28th, 2008

Zepto Znote 3215WAs my old Asus M2N laptop got older and older, and for some reason slower and slower, I decided to buy a new one. I ended up gettinng a Zepto Znote 3215W with a few customisations. There were several reason for this choice:

  • Zepto has very competive prices,
  • Zepto will sell laptops without an OS preinstalled – no involuntary Microsoft tax,
  • laptops can be customised as you want them,
  • and then this quote: “Works with Ubuntu Linux. 3215W is tested and will work together with Ubuntu Linux 7.10 beta, Out-of-the-box. For Wifi you will need to use the Intel Pro/Wireless 4965 netcard.”

The specs of mine are:

  • Intel Centrino “Santa Rosa” chipset
  • Intel Core2 Duo CPU T5450 @ 1.66GHz (*)
  • 2 Gb DDR2 800MHz RAM (*)
  • 120 Gb SATA harddisk 7200 rpm (*)
  • DVD-RW DL drive (*)
  • 15.4″ WXGA “Crystal Clear” display at 1280×800
  • Intel GMA X3100 graphics chipset
  • Intel Pro/Wireless 4965AGN wireless network adapter (*)
  • Broadcom NetLink BCM5906M network adapter
  • Broadcom internal USB bluetooth adapter (*)
  • Ricoh Firewire adapter
  • Ricoh SD/MMC card reader

The items marked with (*) are where I have asked for changes or additions to the default configuration.

It is a fairly large laptop, measuring 36×27×4cm and weighing 2.8kg which is OK for the kind of semi-stationary work I do currently.

Conclusions

Most parts of the laptop work immediately with little or no manual configuration on a Debian Testing install, but there are several parts that doesn’t. Most of these seem to have a solution on the way. Zepto states that the laptop is fully Ubunto 7.10 compatible, but not everything went that smooth with Debian.

An install of Debian Testing (lenny) with a Linux 2.6.23 kernel leaves these parts non-functional:

and these only partly functional:

  • X server sometimes fails to restore textmode correctly
  • Touchpad not recognised but it still usable
  • ACPI works only partially
  • Minor issues with sound and headphones

and these require an extra effort to get fully functional:

  • Compiz window manager
  • SD/MMC card reader
  • Keyboard hotkeys

(more…)

Verbatim SmartDisk NAS External Harddrive

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

Verbatim SmartDisk NAS External HarddriveI was low on disk space for photos and music, so in a whim I bought a “Verbatim SmartDisk NAS External Harddrive” from where I usually buy blank media. It had a decent size, it wasn’t expensive and it supported NFS.

The first thing I did was to reformat the drive as ext3 in stead of the default vfat. I then enabled NFS and created two users and tried it from my Debian/Gnome laptop.

Then everything went wrong. The user specific folders didn’t show up for NFS, though they did for CIFS. If I tried to copy files over from my desktop via CIFS the NAS blocked immediately. It worked from a Mac though. Ownership and permissions were a mess between CIFS and NFS. In short, it didn’t work very well.

It took quite some time and effort to sort it out, and a bit of tweaking too.

I first wanted to use NFS because I have Linux and Mac OS X clients, but immediately ran into the usual problem of mismatched user ids and there was no way on the NAS to adjust that. It could have worked if I could use NFS exclusively, but I still need CIFS to work, also on shared directories.

Also, user specific mounts didn’t appear as NFS mounts, only as CIFS shares. I could work around that, however, by creating an NFS mount with the same name and location as the user share.

Then I tried to use CIFS on Linux but the default of using some Unix extensions to CIFS carried the user id problem over there too. Besides that, the NAS would block as soon as I tried to write to the disk through CIFS. It would write 8kb of the first file and then block everything.

Somehow I figured out that the default Linux CIFS settings caused the NAS to block due to byte range locking, and once I changed my automounter setup, it worked a bit better. There was also a character set problem between NFS and CIFS, but that was easily fixed. The line in /etc/auto.master

/smb    /etc/auto.smb nobrl,iocharset=utf8

must have the final “nobrl,iocharset=utf8″ added to disable byte range locks and fix character translation in file names.

I also found a way to disable the Unix extensions to CIFS, but again it completely messed up interaction with NFS due to differences in user ids.

In the end I used a bit of brute force to get all combinations of Linux and Mac OS X, and NFS and CIFS to play together. I found a way to get enable telnet on the NAS, there was no root password, and I edited /etc/passwd and changed the user ids of the users to match what I have on the other systems. That did it.

The address to enable telnet on the NAS is http://sohonas/cgi/telnet/telnet.cgi

Compiz 0.5 in Debian unstable

Friday, June 15th, 2007

Compiz 0.5 arrived in unstable a while ago. I usually run testing, but the Compiz 0.3.6 I used came from experimental. Unfortunately, an installation of Compiz 0.5 from unstable on a testing system would update libc6 and hence almost all of the system to unstable. I waited.

Compiz in actionThe libc6 update passed into testing recently, and I upgraded Compiz from unstable afterwards. Disaster.

Initially, Compiz started, but all windows were empty, blank, void. The windows were there, I could click on links in a browser window, but I could see nothing but a blank window. Pop-up menus didn’t even display, though they too were there, but invisible.

After much experimenting and searching and reading fora and blogs (using a Metacity session), I discovered that I needed to update the the latest version of xserver-xorg-core from unstable. That solved the blank window problem.

Now I could see the content of my windows. It is actually quite nice, once you’ve tried the opposite :-)

The windows had no decorations, however. No titlebar, no borders, but naked and ashamed.

This was a bit harder to solve, but in the end I discovered that the package “libdecoration0″ had version 0.3.6, so it had not been upgraded for some reason, probably due to an unversioned depends rule in the Compiz packages.

A manual upgrade of libdecoration0 solved the problem, and now Compiz 0.5 works very well on my little laptop.

Aptitude

Monday, March 26th, 2007

I’ve been using dpkg, apt-get and apt-cache for a long time, but since I got a new laptop with a fresh install of Debian testing I have been playing with new toys.

One is aptitude.

I found the curses-based interface obnoxious, but after some time I came to like the command line interface. It has some very nice abilities.

It integrates debfoster functionality as it automatically uninstalls unused dependencies of packages being removed. That’ll be a great help in maintaining a clean uncluttered system.

The search function is really useful, adding a lot of possibilities that used to require several programs. Here are few examples:

Search for all packages whose description matches “syncml”:

aptitude search ~dsyncml

Search for installed packages depending on “rsync”:

aptitude search ~Drsync~i

The search patterns are regular expressions, so the above will actually search for an installed package depending on some other package whose name contains the substring “rsync”.

Simpel terms search on the package names, such as:

aptitude search '^rdiff'

Aptitude has a silly little easter egg. Try “aptitude moo” and then add “-v” options one at a time.

Checking Debian hardware compatibility

Sunday, February 26th, 2006

This site is absolutely great for finding the right drivers and checking hardware compatibility:

http://kmuto.jp/debian/hcl/index.cgi

Just paste the output of lspci -n into the form and it’ll tell what is supported and by which drivers. It couldn’t be easier.

Debian 2006 GPG keys

Friday, January 6th, 2006

Debian has updated their signing keys so apt-get update produces errors like these:

W: GPG error: http://mirrors.dk.telia.net testing Release: The following signatures couldn't be verified because the public key is not available: NO_PUBKEY 010908312D230C5F
W: GPG error: http://mirrors.dk.telia.net unstable Release: The following signatures couldn't be verified because the public key is not available: NO_PUBKEY 010908312D230C5F
W: You may want to run apt-get update to correct these problems

The solution is to import the new keys (run as root):

wget http://ftp-master.debian.org/ziyi_key_2006.asc -O - | apt-key add -

and rerun apt-get update.

Installing Debian Sarge on a HP Proliant DL320

Monday, November 7th, 2005

I’ve just installed Debian Sarge on a HP Proliant DL320 without a hitch.

It is a Xeon 3.4GHz hyperthreaded with 1Gb ram and a single SATA disk.

I booted it via PXE since it has no optical drive and no floppy and ran the installation from there.

The basic system works perfectly, with a stock Debian 2.6.12 SMP kernel.

I still haven’t tried stuff like usb, rtc, admin interface etc. I’ve only had it for enough time to set it up to what its supposed to do :-)

Nucleus CMS on Apache2 / Debian

Tuesday, November 1st, 2005

While moving all my sites to Apache2 and PHP4.4 on a Debian server, I ran into a few problems. Not sure why, though.

All pages on all blogs came up blank and there was absolutely nothing in the Apache error log.

A test showed that the server returned zero bytes.

I ran the install.php script again, and it said

Your PHP version does not have support for MySQL :(

but phpmyadmin worked brilliantly, so MySQL was supported.

Anyway, after some experimenting, I added the line

extension=mysql.so

to /etc/php4/apache2/php.ini, restarted the web server and Nucleus worked again. I wonder why phpmyadmin worked anyway.

Update: it is in the Debian BTS.